Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."

JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION: In the Company of Great Americans

Beside Birddog at Vung Tau Apr 67

If you wonder why I haven’t posted anything on this blog recently, it’s because I’ve been writing my memoir for the past several months. It will still be a while before it’s published, because I’m having several people review the manuscript before I submit it to the Department of Defense for security review. Like everyone else in government who had a Top Secret security clearance, I signed a non disclosure agreement that requires me to submit any book that deals with what I did in government for review before I can publish it. Since many of you who know me or worked with me over the years are in the book, I want to keep you up to date as we move forward. To whet your interest, here’s the synopsis.

Synopsis

Life is a journey to an unknown destination, best traveled in the company of Great Americans. Ed Ross’ life is just such a story. This incredible no-holds-barred, first-person memoir reveals the good the bad and the evil of a 43-year career in the military and government, with stories of triumph, tragedy, murder, espionage, suicide, defection, terrorism, bureaucratic politics, sacrifice for love of country and associations with great Americans. It begins with a small child running free on the streets of Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1965, he becomes a highly decorated artillery observer with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he comes face to face with the reality of death. Recruited by U.S. Army Military Intelligence, he becomes a clandestine case officer and returns to Vietnam as a covert intelligence operative, running sensitive, deep-cover operations against the Viet Cong. Following his second tour in Vietnam he serves as the chief counter-intelligence/counter-espionage in the 500th Military Intelligence Group, Hawaii, responsible for the Asia-Pacific Theater of operations. Studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute in Anacostia, Maryland, and the American Embassy School for Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taichung, Taiwan, becoming fluent and literate in Chinese, he receives his master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and is assigned as a senior China analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., where he writes Defense and National Intelligence Estimates on China and Taiwan that help change the course of history. As a U.S. military attaché in the People’s Republic of China, he opens the door to U.S.-China defense relations. Medically retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 with life threatening end-stage renal disease, he receives a kidney transplant the following year and goes on to a 23-year career in Washington, D.C., as the Special Assistant for China in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is the architect of U.S. arms sales to China and oversees sensitive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for POW/MOIA Affairs, he creates the Defense Prisoner of war Missing in Action Office and leads the Department of Defense through the intense scrutiny of the American people, the media and the Congress of the controversy over accounting for MIAs in Southeast Asia. As Principal Director for Operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, he led at the nexus where grand strategy and amorphous bureaucracy converged to train and equip friends and allies around the world. A novelist and a columnist, he is a prolific writer.

Check back for updates.

Filed under: Books, China-Taiwan, Movies-TV, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI”

13hours

“13 Hours” ranks up there with the best war movies ever made. It’s a gripping movie that arouses your patriotism, touches your heart, and peaks your anger. My top ten list of great war movies, in order of release date, are listed below with links to the Internet Movie Database.

They Were Expendable (1945)

Twelve O’clock High (1949)

From Here to Eternity (1953)

In Harms Way (1965)

Patton (1970)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

The Patriot (2000)

We Were Soldiers (2002)

American Sniper (2014)

13 Hours (2016) 

What all these movies have in common is that they not only portray combat realistically, it shows those who fight and die for our country as the complex, compassionate and patriotic people they really are. There’s a reason the American Warrior and the U.S. Armed Forces are the most respected class of people and institution in America, and they are it.

War movies at the top of my list, made in the twentieth century, didn’t have the advantage of the sophisticated, real-life-effect computerized graphics movies today have. But great graphics alone don’t make a good movie. Too many filmmakers today believe that all you need is eye-popping destruction and that will drive people to the box office. Moviegoers haven’t changed in the past 100 years. They want a good story, well acted, and well told.

To be sure, “13 Hours” has plenty of great graphic effects, but they don’t overshadow the story of the bravery and sacrifice of a small group of men who fought and died for their comrades. We’ve heard a lot about Benghazi on the news over the past three years. It’s become a hot political topic divided along party lines. For that reason, along with the fact that the story has received scant coverage in the mainstream media, many of not most Americans have tuned out to the story.

Michael Bay did a great job of making the movie as apolitical as possible. There’s no mention of Hillary Clinton or the Obama administration attempt to cover up what really happened in Benghazi. Nevertheless, the debate over Benghazi is too well known, if not well understood, and you can’t watch the move without asking yourself, Why did the President, the Secretary of State and the National Security Advisor lie to the American people and believe they could get away with it. Why didn’t AFRICOM deploy assets to support the beleaguered diplomatic post and the CIA annex?

The movie never explains why AFRICACOM or EUCOM never launched an effort to support those fighting and dying in Benghazi; but can you imagine them not taking action unless ordered not to from above? I can’t.

There’s no need for me to summarize the plot of “13 Hours.” You know the gist of the story. But no matter what you think you know, I guarantee you that you’ll come away from the movie with knowledge and insight you didn’t have before. I give “13 Hours” five stars.

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“The Transplants” a novel by Ed Ross. Click on image.

Cover and Photo

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Movies-TV, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

THE 87TH ACADEMY AWARDS

oscar-statue

I’ve been watching the Academy Awards program on television since the 20-something time they were broadcast. The first televised program was the 25th Academy Awards in 1953. I’ve missed a few programs over the years. Two tours of duty in Vietnam and a couple other overseas assignments got in the way. Like most serial viewers, I continue to watch them because they’re a lot of entertainment in a concentrated package; and, because they are live, anything can happen. Beyond that, I want to see who younger Americans are looking up to these days. Like most people who have been watching them for decades, I’ve never seen nor heard of half of this year’s nominated movies and individuals. They only nominated movies I’ve seen are “American Sniper” and “The Judge.”

So why bother to watch the 87th Academy Awards tonight? Besides addiction, I suppose it’s because I hope to see young stars emerge that remind me of the great stars of decades past—Clark Gabel, Gary Cooper, Carry Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Havilland (who is still alive at 98), just to name a few. They were stars in an era when most people went to the movies because of who was in them, not because of what the movie was about. Today the stars in most movies are almost an afterthought; and few of the better ones hit home runs almost every time at bat.

I still am an avid viewer of Turner Classic Movies, and I usually decide which ones I watch because of who’s in them. With the Watch TCM app on your smart phone or tablet you can watch dozens of movies on-demand not just the ones currently showing.

I don’t mean to be overly critical of today’s crop of actors and directors. There are many fine actors; and Clint Eastwood at 84 is still at the top of his game. Of this year’s nominees, I like Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly and Rosamund Pike, three of which are British.

With all the nasty things going on in the world these days, the Academy Awards program, like any other form of entertainment, is an opportunity to escape reality for a few hours. I just hope the winners accept their awards graciously without making political statements and gestures. What I dislike most about the Oscars are the political statements made by recipients. They are totally unnecessary. I have a long list of Hollywood personalities, headed by Jane Fonda, that I will no longer watch because of their political views. If someone holds their hands in the air and says “Don’t shoot,” or suggests that I’m likely a racist, Islamophobe or homophobe, I’ll switch the channel to TCM.

Finally, I’m hoping “American Sniper” wins all six of the Oscars it’s been nominated for. It’s one of the best war movies ever made. It says a lot about the 0.45 percent of the American population that serve their country in the U.S. Armed Forces and the spouses that support them.

Filed under: Movies-TV, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BRIAN WILLIAMS, DAN RATHER AND LIBERAL NEWS

150205_rather_williams_ap_629

 

The Brian Williams’ memory-confusion story has been all over the media this week, except for the three broadcast television networks; why am I not surprised. Anchors and journalists on Fox News have pointed out the similarities between Rather’s coverage of President George W. Bush’s Texas National Guard service story and Williams’ I-was-almost shot down story. They both were fabricated.

To my mind the implications of the Williams’ story goes far beyond one news anchor’s credibility. As in the case of Dan Rather it goes to the mainstream media’s credibility altogether. Those of us who watch Fox News routinely hear about what stories ABC, CBS and NBC don’t cover. Occasionally, we here about the stories they mis-report. I have long contended that the mis-reporting is far more widespread that many believe.

When I was much younger I was an avid watcher of “60 Minutes” on CBS. For years I watch the program and accepted what they reported as fact. Rarely did they report on stories that I had first hand knowledge of. As I got older, served int the military, went to Vietnam and served in the Department of Defense, however, I began to notice that when they did report on a story that I had first hand knowledge of, they got it terribly wrong. “How can I trust them to report honestly on stories I don’t know much about when the grossly mis-report stories I know a lot about?” I stopped watching “60 Minutes” because the program no longer was credible.

I no longer watch any of the three network news broadcasts for the same reason. Like so many others I get my news from Fox, the Internet and other sources I trust. The three networks have lost much of the large viewership they once had, still a great many people  watch them and accept what they tell them.

Will the revelations of Brian Williams further damage network news. I believe it will, but not dramatically and not quickly. Old habits are hard to break. People will argue that Williams transgression was personal aggrandisement and doesn’t affect the way he reports the news. I question that assumption. Slowly but surely the so-called main stream media is becoming just other alternative media.

 

Filed under: Movies-TV, , , , , , , ,

AMERICAN SNIPER

Kyle

American Sniper is old news, although the far left is still carping about it; but I just saw it yesterday and I want to share my thoughts. The first thing I want to say is hats off to Clint Eastwood. Other directors are long out to pasture at 84. I’ve always been an Eastwood fan, but the stamina and determination he shows in producing and directing this movie are exceptional. It truly is one of the best war movies I have ever seen. He captures the life of an American hero and tells his story in a coherent and compelling manner which should stir the heart of every American patriot. I left the theater with tears in my eyes.

As a Vietnam War combat veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Army I know the hardships warriors and their families endure. As I wrote in A Soldier’s Journey to an Unknown Destination, war changes you in ways you are not even aware of. Yes, there are those that come home damaged mentally and physically, but most combat veterans will tell you the are better people. Combat teaches you the true value of life. I believe American Sniper communicates that idea.

Warrior’s spouses who raise their children and run their household alone while their husband or wife serve repeated tours in combat zones are heroes unto themselves. American Sniper captures what Chris and Tara Kyle felt not just what they did.

(Spoiler Alert) Eastwood omits the tragedy of Chris Kyle’s murder by a deranged veteran from the film. It ends with Tara’s last glimpse of Chris alive. Behind the ending credits actual footage of Chris’s memorial ceremony and funeral show the thousands of people who turned out to honor him.

Finally, I am even more angry now at the Michael Moore’s and Howard Deans on the left who cast aspersions on Chris Kyle and the movie. They demonstrate how ignorant and out of touch the far left is with America. There attitudes remind me of how many Americans felt about the Vietnam War and those of us who served in it. To me, they are the moral equivalent of Jane Fonda sitting on an antiaircraft gun in Hanoi while American warriors are dying in combat and American POWs are tortured. Her actions contributed to many deaths because she bolstered enemy morale and helped the North Vietnamese win the propaganda battle which extended the war. Moore, Dean and others do the same. Criticizing policy and strategy are fair game; personal attacks on true American heroes are disgusting.

Like Saving Private Ryan, American Sniper contains graphic violence and images of American warriors dying on the battlefield; but as Eastwood did in the Undefeated, he never glorified violence, he only shows its consequences. I highly recommend American Sniper.

Filed under: Movies-TV, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE TRANSPLANTS TRAILER

THE TRANSPLANTS AVAILABLE AT http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QEMK7FQ

 

Filed under: Books, Movies-TV, , , , , ,

THE TONIGHT SHOW

leno

Is Jimmy Fallon in the same league with Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Jay Leno? (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: Movies-TV, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION

Ross's Luncheonette Swissvale PA 1949

I spent some time over Thanksgiving playing around with my photo collection in Windows Movie Maker and I thought I would share with you what I came up with. HAPPY HOLIDAYS  (Watch the YouTube video here)

Filed under: Movies-TV, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THE HUNGER GAMES

I saw The Hunger Games at 9:50 AM, Friday, March 23, having only made it halfway through the novel before seeing the movie. I have to agree with the positive reviews that it’s an excellent movie. Jennifer Lawrence is exceptional as Katniss Everdene; and unless you’ve seen her great performance in Winter’s Bone, it’s difficult to reconcile her coal-miner’s daughter appearence in the movie with her sexy-woman look in X-Men: First Class; but that’s the magic of Hollywood.

I agree with the reviewer who wrote that his only complaints were that the movie wasn’t long enough and that it couldn’t be told in the first person like the book. I would add to that, Hollywood too often these days gives in to eye-popping computer-generated imagery effects at the cost of story, climatic tension, and buildup. The Hunger Games has it all without overdoing the CGI.

Of course, not everyone will like The Hunger Games. I still speak with people who have never read a Harry Potter book or watched a Harry Potter movie–their loss.

The Hunger Games is different from Harry potter, although both series have plenty of violence. The violence in Hunger Games, while toned down from the book to obtain a PG-13 rating, is still more realistic and true to life. A sword, spear, or arrow inflicts a much different wound than a magic wand.

What he Harry Potter and Katniss Everdine series have in common is that they speak to fundamental human emotions and values–fear, love, loyalty, hope, and the resiliance of the human spirit. That’s why both are blockbusters. Contrary to Hollywood’s operating principles, the American moviegoer wants more than entertainment and special effects. They want to be moved and inspired.

The Hunger Games should appeal to both conservatives and liberals. Conservatives will find the anti big-brother government theme appealing; both liberals and conservatives should like the strong female protagonist. If anyone is contemplating a “war on women” they should consider that there are a lot of Katniss Everdene’s in real-life America. You don’t  want to mess with them.

I never figured out what was appealing about damsels in distress. We’er all a lot better off with women that can take care of themselves and us when the need arises. If The Hunger Games inspires more young American women to be like Katniss, the country will be a lot better off.

I give the movie four and a half stars out of five. I highly recommend it. Everyone now has time to  read all three books in the series (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) before the second movie comes out in about a year or so.

I believe you get a lot more out of the movies when you read the books first. It allows your mind to fill in what the movies necessarily leave out. I read Gen. Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur as a child before I saw the 1959 version of the Movie with Charlton Heston. The dozens of times I have watched that move since in 55 years, I can still fill the rich story about Ben Hur’s experiences in Rome and his other romance that the movie left out.

Filed under: Books, Movies-TV, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ROBIN HOOD – A Role Model for Conservative Politicians

Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, which opened to mixed reviews in American movie theaters on May 14, is an excellent educational film for current and future conservative American politicians. It reinforces the importance of championing limited government, individual rights, and freedom over the pursuit of self interest.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, this may confuse you. The countless versions of Robin Hood, from 1938’s Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood onward, portrayed the medieval hero as a liberal. Robin always had the right talking points, but his main activities were the pursuit of his own interests and the redistribution of wealth. He pursued merriment with Lady Marian and his merry men. He fought for his beloved but absent King Richard the Lionheart and to recover his lost estates. And he taunted the Sheriff of Nottingham for entertainment. Most important, he took from the rich to give to the poor—a defining liberal characteristic.

Read the full column

Filed under: Movies-TV, Satire, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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